SEO optimization is facing a crossroads in the very near future. The two main forces for change are Google and artificial intelligence.
For example, this year, Google Analytics Universal or Google Analytics 3 will no longer collect data about SEO. The Google Merchant Center, which is key to getting your products to surface online, will soon be changing to something called Google Merchant Next. Plus, we’re sure you’ve read a lot about AI this year. Sure, some of what you’ve been reading is scary. But before you focus on that too much, you should think about how AI will affect people’s search habits and how they shop online.
To continue to thrive in this new world, you must adapt to changes. And if it’s too much for you to deal with, that’s why we’re here. At SEO Design Chicago, we start each day by learning about new technology developments. And then we make sure our clients are on the cutting edge. This is essential in today’s competitive environment because those that are adaptable will be the ones at the top of the SERPs.
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How to Optimize for SEO in 2023
Here’s the thing about SEO. Every time people think, “I finally get it!” Google changes its algorithms. And Google isn’t the only player in the SEO game. Bing has their own search algorithms. And AI will definitely, and has already, affected SEO.
In order to be successful in marketing, you must become more adaptable and realize that the tools you used in the past, or are currently using for that matter, will soon be irrelevant.
SEO is always changing. Yes, there will always be a couple of items that remain the same:
- Using meaningful keywords in titles
- Using keywords in headers and in the content on webpages
- Making sure Google has indexed your website
- Writing alt tags for images
What Does EAT Mean for SEO?
In previous years, SEO experts often tossed around the term “EAT.” EAT stands for publishing content that demonstrates “Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.”
Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines have long said that EAT is “very important” when it comes to where a page ranks in Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).
Late last year, Google updated this concept. They added an extra “e” so the acronym is now E-E-A-T, which stands for “Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.” They wrote, “Many creators are familiar with the concept of E-A-T, which is used in how we evaluate if our search ranking systems are providing helpful, relevant information. Would ordinary people feel the results they get demonstrate E-A-T, that is expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness?”
Now to better assess our results, E-A-T is gaining an E: experience. Does content also demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with the actual use of a product, having actually visited a place, or communicating what a person experienced? There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has first-hand experience with the topic at hand.
In other words, content on websites should be written by a real person, with real first-hand experience about the topic. It’s part of Google’s response to content produced by AI.
At SEO Design Chicago, we have a dedicated team of real people to produce written text, audio, photo, and video content. And we have no problem “ghost producing” the content for you so it seems like you produced it yourself. We’ll help you create author bios to prove to Google that the content is from a real expert.
Predictions for SEO Optimizing in 2023
The changes we discussed above are just another example of how Google continues to offer an improved dynamic product and we must be willing to embrace that fact and embrace our abilities to change along with them. Here are some other SEO developments we predict for this year.
The New Standard for Searching Will Be Zero-Clicks
Over 50% of all searches are currently zero-click searches. This is a result of SERP features like Google Local Packs (which includes businesses who have listed themselves in Google My Business so they appear in Google Maps), featured snippets, “People Also Ask,” and more. So now, more than ever, users are getting their questions answered without having to click on an individual site. The SERP is providing the answer to the search itself.
Is it time for marketers to start panicking yet?
Not so much. Think about the kind of searches that we are talking about here. These are the searches from users looking for phone numbers, hours of service, addresses, and other answers to quick questions. We are not talking about clicks that were going to convert in the first place. Therefore, there is no need to worry about losing these ones anyway.
What you can do to improve your chances of showing up for zero-click searches starts with making sure that your business is indexed by Google and that you have a Google Business Profile. Then you also need to regularly produce content related to your area of specialty. Think about what keywords actually drive clicks to your site. There are plenty of sites that can help refine keywords. Google offers a keyword research tool and then there are more advanced ones, like SEMRush. If you need some help or are struggling, articles on keyword research may help you. We can also take over the duties for you.
You’ll Need to Focus on Improving Your Content For Both Rich and Featured Snippets
So now that zero-click searches are becoming more popular and common, the information on the search engine results pages (SERPs) is more critical than ever before.
A featured snippet is an answer to a question that appears above the search results. It’s often called “People Also Ask.” Featured snippets are different from rich snippets. Rich snippets may show things such as pricing, reviews, and perhaps images. Featured snippets show much more information at the beginning of a SERP. In addition, rich snippets are less difficult to obtain. However, they will bring reduced CTR improvements compared to a featured snippet. Featured snippets, conversely, do great in increasing CTR. But, they are much more difficult to get.
Okay, so how do you get a featured or rich snippet? You need to add questions and answers into your content management system so that Google can easily pull that information into the “people also ask” snippet. You can do this by adding a special FAQ plugin to your CMS.
Keep in mind that featured snippets are highly volatile. If you currently have one, it does not mean you will retain it. There may always be someone else that will be able to give a better answer. That’s why you need to keep creating more content and including more FAQs. For many business owners, that’s challenging and time-consuming. That’s why they turn to SEO Design Chicago to produce content for them. Content isn’t just about the main part of the page, whether that’s an article or product description and image. Content includes filling in information on SEO plugins.
Local SEO Is Changing
Many zero-click searches provide information about local businesses that provide solutions to whatever the user has typed in. Often, the results show up on the SERP in what is called “local packs.” Local packs are featured at the top of SERP and usually contain a map and three local business listings relevant to the search. Sometimes they include products offered by local businesses or content produced by local businesses in featured snippets. Local packs sometimes take up an entire screen on a mobile device. As mobile searches become increasingly prevalent, we need to understand how this should change our conceptions of quality SERP.
Every year, a company called WhiteSpark produces a report after interviewing around 150 SEO experts. This report tells people how Google, which keeps its algorithms secret, what experts suspect Google is up to when it comes to determining SERP rankings, especially ones that involve local packs.
This year, they found some big changes, including:
- An increased importance of Google Business Profile signals. This means you must have a Google Business Profile and it must include a phone number, physical address (even if you are an online business), and keywords related to your industry in your profile.
- An increased importance of on-page signals, meaning that every page should include a name (including one that shows authority and expertise and experience), address, and phone number. Each page must also contain keywords.
- A consistent database of reviews from users. The reviews must be regular and sustained over time, not over a few days. Google suspects those reviews are fake. The take-home message? Always ask customers for reviews.
- Regular internal links. You need to hyperlink to other websites, but you also must link to pages within your site.
Google’s Technology Is Ever-Evolving
Google wants to retain its top position in search so it will always update its software and tools. This year, the big update is Google Analytics 4. Like previous versions, GA4 will tell you information about SEO, including how many people visit your site, how long they stay, what pages they click on, where they live, when they look at your site, what devices they use, etc. However, it also offers up new information that you couldn’t get before, such as when a user:
- Clicks on a button within a webpage
- Signs up for more information
- Puts an item in a shopping cart but abandons it before checkout
- Makes a purchase
- Clicks on your social media icons
- Submits payment information
- Fills out their shipping information
- Adds items to wish lists
- Opens an app after a notification
- Scrolls through 90% of a webpage (that means you’ve done something right to keep them interested)
- Watches a video, and to what point
Google is also getting more deeply involved in AI, with particular emphasis on how AI affects search. Recently, they’ve allowed anyone to request access to Search Labs, a new program to access experiments like Search Generative Experience or SGE. Google is hoping that “The new generative AI-powered Search experience will help you take some of the work out of searching, so you can understand a topic faster, uncover new viewpoints and insights and get things done more easily.” At the same time, they promise to make sure the results they are returning to you aren’t created by AI and are instead produced by local experts.
Get Optimizing Help From SEO Design Chicago
At SEO Design Chicago, we can handle all of this stuff for you, get you started on the path to handling it on your own, or apply consistent SEO best practices to your website for you. Get in touch with us today to start seeing results for your business.